Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

Farm shops, medical breaches and lookalikes: How Kate Middleton’s last week fuelled more conspiracy theories

It’s been another busy week for the royal family as aides reportedly draw up a plan for Kate Middleton’s possible return to public duties this weekend

Alex Ross
Thursday 21 March 2024 15:47 GMT
William praises Kate’s passion for early years development during latest royal visit

Recently barely a day has gone by without the royal family appearing on a newspaper front page, and this week has been no exception.

Already this year Buckingham Palace has been rocked by a shock cancer diagnosis, and the scandal linking Prince Andrew to paedophile Jeffrey Epstein has continued to rumble on.

There has also been the news of Kate Middleton’s abdominal surgery along with the surprise - albeit short - appearance of her uncle, Gary Goldsmith, in the Celebrity Big Brother house.

And Kate Middleton’s operation recovery has been the latest focus of worldwide media attention in recent weeks.

A view of the newspaper headlines that published photographs of Princess Kate during her visit to a farm shop on Saturday (Anadolu via Getty Images)

To add to the continued pressure facing the palace, it looks like it holds little control, with any silence met with speculation that spirals out of control on social media platforms.

It’s been another week in the headlines for the royal family - here we look back at what has happened.

Windsor Farm Shop

Shopper Nelson Silva got a shock when he discovered he found himself standing behind the Prince and Princess of Wales at the meat section of Windsor Farm Shop on Saturday.

The 40-year-old then took a video of the smiling couple as they walked from the shop, which is a short drive from their Adelaide Cottage home in the grounds of Windsor Castle.

Kate’s visit to Windsor Farm Shop was splashed on the front of The Sun, which obtained a video taken by shopper Nelson Silva (Jonathan Brady/PA Wire)

It was the first time Kate had been seen in public since her abdominal operation.

The video was obtained by The Sun, and soon stills from the footage were shared across the world, with people voicing relief at not only the appearance of the royal but also her apparent good health.

Kate Middleton lookalike

But the footage of Kate did not quell the speculation over her absence. Some on social media made the wild claim an impersonator of the Princess of Wales had actually stood in for her during the farm shop visit.

Heidi Agan saw her social media platform fill with comments including: “How much did you get paid for pretending to be her at the farmers market?” Another read: “Found her. She’s fine.”

The mother-of-two from Northamptonshire was quick to provide an alibi for the day - she had been working as a teacher at a dance and musical theatre group - while criticising those fuelling the speculation.

Kate Middleton impersonator Heidi Agan called on people to stop the speculation after she was accused for stepping in for the royal (katemiddletonlookalike/Instagram)

Ms Agan, who gave up her £6-an-hour job at a restaurant to become an impersonator, told The Mirror: “Since Kate has surgery, I have done gigs where I have walked in and people have said ‘there’s Kate” so it started as a joke around ‘we’ve found Kate’ but now it should stop really.”

Medical record security alleged breach

After her last royal outing in 2023, on Christmas Day at Sandringham, there came the shock announcement on 17 January that Kate had undergone abdominal surgery at The London Clinic in Marylebone.

Less than two weeks later, on 29 January, she was discharged, and she’s been recovering at home since. The exact nature of her condition that led to the surgery was never revealed, although it’s been said it was not cancer-related.

The princess wished for her personal medical information to remain private - but on Wednesday, it emerged that a member of staff at the hospital allegedly attempted to view Kate’s files while she was inside as a patient.

Up to three staff members are allegedly being investigated.

Chief executive of the London Clinic, Al Russell, said: “All appropriate investigatory, regulatory and disciplinary steps will be taken.”

The Information Commissioner’s Office, the UK’s privacy watchdog, said it was also looking into a breach report and “assessing the information provided”.

King Charles spotted leaving Windsor Castle

King Charles is continuing to receive treatment for his cancer diagnosis and has stepped back from royal duties.

The King greeted four British veterans of the Korean War ahead of a palace reception to mark the 70th anniversary of the conflict (Jonathan Brady/PA Wire)

However, on Tuesday he was pictured greeting British veterans of the Korean War ahead of a reception to mark the 70th anniversary of the conflict at Buckingham Palace.

And on Tuesday and Wednesday, he was spotted leaving his central London residence, Clarence House, in the back of cars followed by a police escort.

On Wednesday night, Queen Camilla travelled without her husband to Northern Ireland for a series of engagements.

On being given a get well card for the King from a shopkeeper in Belfast, she said: “He was very disappointed he couldn’t come.”

Getting on with official duties

Amid the storm surrounding the Princess of Wales, her husband, Prince William, was seen getting on with his royal duties on Wednesday.

Prince William was pictured looking relaxed as he privately met Guardsmen from the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards based at Combermere Barracks in Windsor.

He carried out the visit, a short distance from his home in the grounds of Windsor Castle, in his role as Colonel of the Welsh Guards.

The Prince of Wales during a visit to a Homewards Sheffield Local Coalition meeting at the Millennium Gallery in the city (Oli Scarff/PA Wire)

The engagement came a day after William spoke on his project, Homewards, to tackle homelessness during a visit to Sheffield.

William’s only reference to his wife came after a participant at one of his engagements on Tuesday mentioned the importance of the early years of childhood, prompting the prince to say: “Venturing into my wife’s territory here. She needs to be sat here to hear this.”

Kate’s planned return to public duties

Back when news first came out on Kate’s abdominal surgery, Kensington Palace said it was likely she would return to royal duties after Easter - however, there are reports emerging that she could make a return this weekend.

As is tradition, the royal family make a walk to St George’s Chapel, Windsor, for the annual Easter Matins service, and The Times suggest her return could take place by joining her family at the church service.

The newspaper said a team of palace officials was working to manage the “messaging” around Kate’s return to make her transition back to work as smooth as possible.

Her Easter weekend appearance would be followed by a break with her children during the school holidays, with a more permanent return to public duties pencilled in at the start of the new school term, it was claimed.

Claim another royal photograph edited

After the drama surrounding Kate’s editing of a photograph of her and her children to mark Mother’s Day last week, claims emerged that another royal photograph had been digitally enhanced.

The picture of Queen Elizabeth that Getty claimed was digitally enhanced (The Princess of Wales/Kensington)

Picture agency Getty placed an editor’s note on a picture of Queen Elizabeth II with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren that was released last year. It read: “The image has been digitally enhanced at source”.

The picture shows the Queen seated along with Prince William and Kate’s children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, and their royal cousins Lady Louise Mountbatten-Windsor, James, Earl of Wessex, Lena Tindall, Isla Phillips, Mia Tindall, Lucas Tindall and Savannah Phillips on a green sofa.

The Telegraph reported that the picture had several discrepancies, including the mismatch in late Queen’s tartan skirt as well as the black patches behind Princes George and Louis, suggesting editing.

For the latest on the royal family, follow The Independent’s live blog by clicking here.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in